Oral cancers of the mouth are aggressive growths that can invade your tongue and roof of the mouth and spread elsewhere in the body. The number of oral cancer cases has increased over the last decade, with around 8,300 people diagnosed each year in the UK alone. The earlier this cancer is detected, the more likely that treatment will be successful. This is why we offer a mouth cancer check during your routine dental check-up.
Oral cancer is rare in non-smokers. Tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, is nearly always implicated as a cause. Heavy smoking combined with drinking alcohol greatly increases the risk. Cancer of the lips may be caused by sunburn and excessive sun exposure as in other skin cancers.
As with all cancers, in rare cases individuals who do not smoke or drink at all still develop the disease. This likely represents a genetic susceptibility to the disease.
Dentists undergo special training to identify conditions in the mouth, with the visual exam one of the most reliable means of prevention. During your regular examinations, we check for any suspicious lesions and refer any patients with these for further checks in hospital.
We can also offer advice related to your diet, tobacco use and alcohol consumption, as well as suggesting other ways to help you reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
If you are over 40 and smoke, drink alcohol heavily (over 21 units per week), use betel quid or chewing tobacco, you should be checked for mouth cancer once a year by a dentist. This also applies to people who wear full dentures and have no teeth.
You can greatly reduce the risk of mouth cancer if you stop using tobacco, even after many years of use.
A healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in animal fats, helps to prevent all types of cancer.Back to Dental Education